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Meetings In-Person vs. Video: See You On the Zoom Thing, Suckers...

So, I did it. We had a client who asked to do a face-to-face meeting in early August, socially distanced and with masks on in a conference room.

I was expected to handle about 40% talk time/time of possession across 90 minutes. Here's what I learned.

It freaking sucked.

I'm not super alarmed about doing an in-person meeting with all the right protections as described above. We sanitized before and after, had the masks up and were socially distanced in the conference room.

But it was awful. Here's what I learned and why I would dramatically prefer a Zoom meeting to the in person, masked version:

1--It's hard to talk for long periods of time through a mask. Running a meeting with a mask is not going into a store with a mask. Talking for any period of time is hard, forced and awkward.

2--I have a big a## head. Uni-size, one size fits all masks are not made for me. If you feel any pressure on your ears, that means the mask is tight on your face and that's going to make talking difficult for any period of time.  As they said in Jaws, you're going to need a bigger boat mask.

3 - Life and conversations are hard without facial expressions. You think you can smile with your eyes? I think you look like a hostage when you do your eyes that way.

4 - Almost everything is better with a Zoom call when compared to a masked, in-person meeting. Audio is better. Visuals are better. You build better understanding. You don't feel like you're in a bad movie that ends with zombies running said meeting.

I looked forward to the face to face meeting - a chance to get back to normal. I was wrong.

I'm pro-mask (why not?), but I'm not pro-mask, live meeting.

If you can, save the in-person business meetings for when we beat this thing. For all the essential people doing it day to day, you're professionals - I salute you! 



I prefer a video call to a mask-to-mask meeting too, for all the reasons you stated above. We have modified conference rooms with plexiglass partitioning, and that makes small face to face meetings possible.

Bridgette K.

I haven't had an in-person meeting since March and don't suspect having one for a very long time...but I'm not looking forward towards a similar situation whenever that happens. I lost some hearing in my ears a few years back and before all this, I didn't realize how much I relied on seeing people talk. My hearing loss is quite minimal in comparison, I can only imagine the trouble this causes for people with more severe losses. Thank you for sharing your experience!


What a great read! As I was low-key grumbling about the back to back Zoom meetings, this piece came across my feed. It made me laugh - and I appreciate your sense of humor and writing style! I'm looking forward to being able to be in-person with colleagues and customers....but for now? Well, I'll just shine up my camera and carry on without having to try to smile with my eyes (hostage isn't a good look for me!).

Thanks for the sanity check!

Paul Mastrangelo

How about meeting outside? That should allow a safer environment without the need for a mask. Either a walking meeting (where you are side by side) or if materials need to be reviewed, at a longer table where each person can see both their screen and each other’s face.

I recently hired a new associate and after a few weeks of zoom calls, we met in person at a restaurant for a more casual “get to know you” meeting which worked out well!

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